Oldham MP: Government seek to 'blame the poor' for second infection wave

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has said she fears that the Government is creating a situation where "the poor" will be blamed if there's a second wave of Covid-19 infections by relaxing the lockdown rules.

Mrs Abrahams took to her Twitter account to comment on a BBC interview with a senior figure in the Conservative party's influential 1922 Committee, MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, in which he said of the easing of lockdown rules: "I particularly liked the PM's idea of individuals taking responsibilities for their own decisions, being aware and doing what they think is sensible to protect themselves and others." 

In her Tweet, Mrs Abrahams said: "In other words, this change in advice is about shifting blame from the Government to irresponsible individuals who weren't 'alert'. 

"Given that the poor are disproportionately, already, being affected you can see who this blame will be directed at. Shocking." 

Mrs Abrahams added that: "People on low incomes are less likely to be able to work from home and less likely to have their own car, will have to run the gauntlet on public transport, and are more likely to be exposed to the virus.

"Local mass testing, contact tracing and tracking must be in place before lifting this lockdown. 

"Clear guidance for employers must also be put in place before people return to work. 

"Let’s not forget some staff in essential, and non-essential, sectors have already been working through this crisis and my inbox has been full with staff concerned about their safety. 

"We must make sure workplaces are safe and all precautions are taken."

In response, Oldham and Saddleworth Conservatives said: "Debbie Abrahams MP has disgracefully claimed that the Government is trying to blame ‘the poor’ for further coronavirus infections.

"This following Cllr Fielding’s earlier, headline-seeking letter to the Prime Minister whilst he was fighting his own personal battle with the virus. Unfortunately Mrs Abraham’s claim and her attempt to wage a class war which doesn’t exist is just another example of politicking of public health on the part of Oldham Labour.

"Mrs Abraham’s claim was in response to suggestions that more responsibility is to be gradually given back to the people of this country over the coming weeks in months, so that we can collectively move towards relative normality again. We sincerely hope that she wasn’t insinuating that people of lesser wealth are incapable of exercising self-responsibility."

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